Abeng Central

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Artisanal gold miners in violent clash over territorial rights

On Wednesday February 17th, a violent clash erupted between artisanal gold miners (‘porknockers’) from the Aucan village of Nieuw Koffiekamp and their colleagues from the Saramaccan village of Brownsweg. The Aucan miners who started the battle accuse the Saramaccans of unauthorized exploitation of Aucan territory. Over one hundred Aucaners and Saramaccaners were involved in the fighting. Three people were taken to hospital.

The incident occurred at the Siksi gold mines, about five kilometers from Nieuw Koffiekamp.  Siksi belongs to the Aucan, or so they claim – interior land demarcations are yet to be confirmed by the Surinamese government. Outsiders wishing to exploit the area, such as Saramaccans and Brazilians, pay a ‘tax’ of 10 percent in gold finding fee to the Aucan organization Makamboa.

Gold mining at Siksi in district Bokopondo

Reportedly, last Wednesday a Makamboa inspection team came across a number of non-paying Saramaccans and the ensuing argument evolved into violence. In their defense, Saramaccan miners have stated that Makamboa does not keep an accurate record of collected taxes, and is therefor easily mistaken in its judgment of tax-obligated Saramaccans.

Village leaders of Nieuw Koffiekamp and Brownsweg have decided  to deny access to their grounds to visitors from the other village, at least for the time being.

Similar to the Christmas incident in Albina, when a mob of Aucans attacked Brazilian laborers, last Wednesday’s incident has elicited a flood of critique from the Suriname public against the enduring passiveness of the Suriname government, who, up until now, has never interfered much in gold mining politics in the interior.

Source: De Ware Tijd Online

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This entry was posted on February 20, 2010 by in Suriname News and tagged , , , , .